The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has announced its fourth proficiency-testing program: the AAFCO Minerals Program.

The quarterly offering focuses on minerals of health and toxicological importance in the food chain at concentrations of health or toxicological significance. Minerals will be spiked into the feed materials to achieve desired concentrations that are not available in the AAFCO monthly Check Sample Program. The primary interest is feed materials, but whenever possible materials of interest in both the food and feed sectors will be incorporated. Planned materials for 2015 are poultry layer feed, rice, dairy or swine feed and dog food to encompass materials of interest to both feed and food laboratories.

The cost for the Mineral Program for 2015 is US$300/year including shipping to the US or Canada. As with all AAFCO programs, materials will be shipped on a regular basis for tests and will be pre-ground. Reports will be generated with AAFCO-specific codes and units to allow for analysis of the performance of individual methods or method types. Reported results will be analyzed statistically and participants will be provided with performance scores for each analyte and method reported. Report cards and consensus reports will be available for download from AAFCO's Data Reporting website.

The Minerals Program is the newest of AAFCO's four proficiency testing programs. Other tests include the monthly AAFCO Check sample program, the Pet Food program and the Mycotoxin Contaminants program. The Check Sample program begins in January 2015 and provides monthly shipments of a variety of feeds and supplements with nutrients, drugs, antibiotics, minerals and vitamins at levels typically encountered in commercial products. The quarterly Pet Food Program, introduced in 2013, starts in February 2015 and provides shipments of petfood ingredients derived from animal or plant sources. The quarterly Mycotoxin Contaminants Program debuted in 2014 and provides shipments of animal feed or petfood contaminated with naturally incurred afflatoxins, fumonisins, deoxynivlaenol, zeraralenone, ochratoxin A and T-2 toxin.

The Minerals Program is available worldwide. For North American customers, shipping via the US Postal Service is included in the price. For international customers, shipping options include express mail from the US Postal Service, which includes tracking, for an additional US$200/year or a courier service using the receiver's account. International options vary for other AAFCO programs.